It’s a long and expensive process to bring new service techs onto your team. If the need arises as a result of growth in your business, then you rejoice. But if you’re consulting with HR to fill a position vacated by someone who quit unexpectedly, joy will not be a part of the process. Even if new hires come in with experience and knowledge, there are going to be some unforeseen challenges as they learn the nuts and bolts of your business, while blending their work style and personality into your service team. And then there are the added costs of recruiting, interviewing, and on-boarding new employees, so it is certainly advantageous to keep the technicians you have, if possible.
So, managers must ask themselves: Are there ways to retain those in whom we’ve invested so much? I worked for the same company for 34 years, and although I was tempted many times to leave, I stuck with my company until I was able to retire. Here are five things I learned along the way that will help you retain your best technicians until they too can retire.
1. Have a Fair and Equitable Reward System
A competitive wage is the starting point, but from there, companies should strive to recognize the hard work of ALL employees, not just the management favorites. Too often favoritism creates an environment where others will seek recognition outside of their current employment. When employees feel like their hard work is constantly going unrecognized, they often seek out greener, more equitable pastures.
2. Keep it Challenging
When I first started out in the printing industry, I worked on small, desk-top printers that soon became simple and routine to repair; boredom nearly caused me to seek another career. I pursued and attained responsibility for fixing larger and more complex equipment, which kept the job interesting to me. Some techs will find a challenge in turning dissatisfied customers into loyal, fully satisfied clients. Managers should invest the time in discovering the best ways to motivate each employee, even if it means they move into another position in the company. It’s better to retain a good employee who knows your company than to end up needing to hire two new people.
3. Reduce the Administrative Burden
One of the biggest complaints that technicians have about their workday is the amount of paperwork and administrative tasks that have to get done. Technicians want to get onsite, solve the problem, and keep the customer happy. By providing a field service management tool that automates a lot of those admin tasks, technicians can spend more time on the things they love about the job. It also means they can get some time back to spend with their families.
4: Make it Personal
As part of the customer training I went through as a new-hire, I was told that “a customer won’t fire a friend,” which was a simplified way to describe the power of familiarity and friendship in business. The same concept applies to the employee/manager relationship, which can keep each employee showing up to work on time each day. It is true that friends make poor bosses because no likes to boss around a friend (and workers are more likely to take advantage of a boss-friend), but some managers think that that means there should be no fraternizing with the troops – what-so-ever!
All of the best bosses I’ve worked for throughout the years, who had the greatest respect and loyalty from those on my team, were very friendly people. They were interested in the affairs of their employees both on and off the clock. They even dared to have the workers over to their homes for a social event on occasion.
5: Help Smooth Out the Bumps
Life is a road full of potholes and speedbumps that everyone must drive blindfolded. No one knows in advance when a pipe will burst to flood their basement, or when a storm will bring down a tree on their home, or when the baby-sitter suddenly decides to quit. I’ve had managers who make their techs account for every hour they’re not on the road taking service calls, and others who don’t insist on using up vacation time for emergencies – you can probably guess which ones I felt more loyalty to.
Money Isn’t The Only Way to Retain Your Best Technicians
Compensation is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping happy, loyal employees. No one can prevent a worker from moving to Florida to get out of the cold or quitting after they win the lottery. However, if managers try to instill a sense of value and respect, they will build loyalty that retains their best employees, and the pride that technicians have in their role will be obvious when they interact with each customer – something that’s very difficult to put a price on.
To learn more about employee retention, read 3 Steps to Engage Your Field Service Workforce.